Trump confirms US withdrawal from ‘unfair’ Paris climate accord

With his announcement, President Donald Trump fulfilled an election promise to pull the United States – the world’s second-largest polluter – out of the Paris climate agreement.

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Under his predecessor, Barack Obama, the US was instrumental in securing consensus from almost 200 countries to work towards limiting global warning to two degrees Celsius by 2030, compared to pre-industrial levels.

But Mr Trump says the deal threatens millions of US manufacturing jobs – as well as coal, iron and steel production – and would cost its economy over AU$4 trillion, while creating onerous energy restrictions.

Mr Trump says it’s his duty to protect US citizens.

“The United States will cease all implementation of the non-binding Paris accord and the draconian financial and economic burdens the agreement imposes on our country. This includes ending the implementation of the nationally-determined contribution and, very importantly, the (UN) Green Climate Fund, which is costing the United States a vast fortune.”

Donald Trump says the Paris accord is less about the climate, and more about other countries gaining a financial advantage over the US.

He’s vowed to pursue more favourable terms within the existing framework, or a completely new deal.

Mr Trump says he cannot support conditions that punish the US without, as he puts it, imposing meaningful conditions on other major polluters.

“For example, under the agreement China will be able to increase these emissions by a staggering number of years – 13, they can do whatever they want for 13 years, not us. India makes its participation contingent on receiving billions and billions and billions of dollars in foreign aid from developed countries. There are many other examples, but the bottom line is that the Paris accord is very unfair at the highest level to the United States.”

China and the European Union have firmly pledged to uphold the climate agreement.

In a joint statement Italy, France and Germany expressed regret over the US decision, adding that the accord is not open to negotiation.

French President Emmanuel Macron says the US has turned its back on the world, but France would not turn its back on the US.

“I wish to tell the United States, France believes in you, the world believes in you. I know that you are a great nation. I know your history – our common history. To all scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, responsible citizens who were disappointed by the decision of the president of the United States, I want to say that they will find in France a second homeland. I call on them, ‘Come and work here with us.'”

The United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, issued a statement read by his spokesman, Stephane Dujarric.

“The decision by the United States to withdraw from the Paris agreement on climate change is a major disappointment for global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote international security. The Paris agreement was adopted by all the world’s nations in 2015 because they recognise the immense harm that climate change is already causing, and the enormous opportunity that climate action represents.”

Tom Burke heads the London-based climate research agency E3G.

He’s told Al Jazeera the US move will have an effect.

“What Paris did was put us on the right road to dealing with climate change, but as was recognised at the time it wasn’t going to take us far enough, fast enough – and so it built in a mechanism for increasing its ambition every five years or so. And I think Trump pulling out will slow down that acceleration that we need. But it won’t stop it. And as all of the commentators have been saying, the fact that he’s pulled out won’t change what’s going on in the real economy where the world is already starting to make the transition to a low-carbon economy. And Paris, of course, was one of the big initiators of that, so now you’re seeing most of the investment in energy around the world is going into renewables, into electric vehicles, into developing that low-carbon economy.”

Mr Burke believes it’s not in the economic or geo-political interest of the US to turn away from the landmark deal.

“There’s going to be quite a price to be paid for repudiating an agreement that everybody else in the world – apart from Syria and Nicaragua – has signed up to. He has just blown in the face of America’s most traditional allies and said, ‘I don’t care what you think is important, I’m going to go my own way’. Now, if there was some reason for it that you could make sense, people might be prepared to accomodate it. But just doing it in this arbitrary and inexplicable way leave everybody baffled as to what on Earth is he trying to accomplish, and where else will he be as unpredictable?”

Prior to the announcement, President Trump had been urged to support the Paris agreement by major companies – including oil producers ExxonMobile and Chevron, and technology firms Microsoft and Google – who have already invested heavily in emissions-lowering measures.

 

 

Trump gets mixed response from companies

US President Donald Trump said withdrawing the country from the Paris climate accord would stave off an economic crisis and protect American jobs – but many American companies seemed to disagree.

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Criticism of his decision rolled in from blue-chip companies like Facebook, Apple, Ford and Microsoft, while the response from fossil fuel groups with the most to gain from a relaxation of US carbon emissions standards was muted.

Tesla Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk and Walt Disney CEO Robert Iger said they would leave White House advisory councils over Trump’s decision.

President of the World Coal Association, Benjamin Sporton, said he had mixed feelings about Trump’s announcement, adding he was eager to see a US policy that actively promotes a place for coal in the global energy mix.

“What we really need to see, if the president wants to re-enter the deal, is that he can change the agreement to recognise the role of all sources of energy, including coal,” Sporton said.

The American Petroleum Institute, the oil and gas industry’s biggest trade group, meanwhile, issued a statement saying it had never taken an official position on the Paris accord.

A number of its members, including Exxon Mobil and ConocoPhillips, had publicly supported the deal.

Some other groups expressed measured support for Trump’s decision, saying it provided an opportunity to fix problems with the deal.

“Manufacturers support the spirit of the Paris Agreement and the effort to address climate change through a fair international agreement. But as the president has acknowledged, certain elements of this deal were not equitable for US manufacturers,” said Ross Eisenberg, vice president for energy and resources policy at the National Association of Manufacturers.

Trump vowed during his campaign to pull the US out of the Paris deal, arguing the pact would cost the country trillions of dollars, kill jobs, and stymie economic growth without providing tangible benefit.

His critics have argued, however, that the risks of climate change require action, and that a shift to a low-carbon energy economy can create more jobs than it eliminates.

Brexit dominates now close-running British election

With less than a week to go, polls ahead of the United Kingdom’s election are showing a less clear-cut response than first thought.

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While earlier forecasts had predicted Prime Minister Theresa May would have an easy victory, some analysts are speculating she may now fall short of a parliamentary majority.

The gap between her Conservative Party and rival Labour continues to narrow.

A year on from the UK’s so-called ‘Brexit’ decision to leave the European Union, the issue of how to handle the delicate process has cast a shadow over campaigning.

Ms May argues she is not only the best choice for Brexit negotiations, but for the country’s future in general.

“They have a choice to decide who they want to lead this country into those Brexit negotiations, get the best deal for Britain from those Brexit negotiations, but also lead us to building that stronger, more prosperous future for our country. It’s a very clear choice. I think it’s me and my team that have that strong and stable leadership, to be able to take this country into those Brexit negotiations, get the best deal, but build that stronger, more secure, fairer, more prosperous future as well.”

Her hardline stance on Brexit, her insistence that “no deal is better than a bad deal”, could complicate trying to form a coalition should her party not achieve an outright majority.

Her policy of budget improvement through continued austerity, and reforms on issues such as funding for social care and education, have also proved unpopular.

Speaking at a recent debate attended by five political parties, deputy leader of the Scottish National Party, Angus Robertson, called on the Conservatives to change so-called “unfair” policies.

“Some of those people on the lowest incomes have been massively hit by welfare cuts, and I think the time has come to end punishing disabled people, end a bedroom tax, and leaving people with the lowest incomes with too little to pay for the essentials. That can change, it’s about political changes.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who voiced strong opposition to exiting the bloc, says he’s now working to get the best possible deal out of the situation.

“It’s rather better than the current government’s process of megaphone diplomacy and threatening. And so we are ready to get on with those negotiations straight away. And we want to get on with it quickly because we want a number of these issues to be settled as quickly as possible, particularly that of EU nationals and tariff-free access to the European market to protect jobs in this country.”

The ‘Leave’ vote succeeded 52 per cent to 48 in June of 2016, angering Scotland and Northern Ireland where a majority voted to remain.

Mr Corbyn’s push to align Labour more closely with its socialist roots and leftist ideals has alienated some party members.

Voters in the Labour stronghold of Hartlepool in northeast England agree Brexit will play a major role in voting choices.

Heather Chapman says she worries “that he doesn’t have the backing of his own party, but the people seem to back him, which I like. I like his old style Labour values as opposed to Labour pretending to be Tories.”

Paul Atkinson, meanwhile, says “I think Theresa May, even though I’m not a Tory voter, I think she’s very very strong at the minute. And even though I’ve been Labour all my life and my family have, I think I will be voting for her because I think she’s going to be the strongest thing for the country right now.”

Peter Robinson points out “There was a massive vote for Brexit in the town, almost 70 per cent, so how many of those people will feel a little bit betrayed by Labour and their inability to push for Brexit, I don’t know. But I suspect there will be quite a few people who would vote Labour, won’t because of Brexit.”

The vote will take place on June 8.

 

 

Superannuation body slams Trump on climate

The organisation representing some of Australia’s biggest superannuation funds has slammed US president Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord.

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The Australian Council of Superannuation Investors, which counts Australian Super among its 31 member funds, was one of the nearly 300 global investors who in May wrote to governments, including the US, urging them to stand by the Paris agreement to limit global warming.

President Trump said the world’s largest economy was quitting the agreement because it cost money and jobs, but the ACSI – whose members manage more than $450 billion in assets for more than eight million Australians – echoed global political and business leaders in condemning the move.

“It is disheartening to see a decision like this, by a wealthy industrialised nation, which flies in the face of scientific knowledge and investor concerns,” ACSI chief executive Louise Davidson said.

“The decision by the Trump administration to withdraw from the Paris Agreement is out of step with community expectations that governments will act in the face of these very real dangers.”

Ms Davidson welcomed the Australian government’s adherence to the Paris agreement and said it remained key to reducing investment risk due to climate change.

“We will continue to work with governments, companies and regulators to manage the risks of climate change for the benefit of our members and investors globally,” she said

“In spite of the disappointing news from the US, we are confident that the high level of global support for action to address climate change means that efforts to manage these risks will continue.”

Archer jailed 22 years for Jody’s murder

A South Australian man who killed his partner and buried her body under a concrete slab has been jailed for at least 22 years.

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Neil Archer, 31, murdered 20-year-old Jody Meyers in August 2015 during a heated argument at their home east of Adelaide.

In the Supreme Court on Friday, Justice Trish Kelly imposed the mandatory head sentence of life in jail but set a non-parole period of 22 years.

The judge described Archer as a controlling individual who believed he owned his partner’s life.

She said Archer believed relatives of Ms Meyers were trying to break up their relationship.

When he revealed his concerns to his brother-in-law, he was told he had two options, put up with it or leave.

Archer’s response was to say “I will just kill her”, Justice Kelly said.

“That statement speaks volumes about your mindset towards Jody.

“It betrays the attitude of a man who thinks he owns his partner’s life.

“It is all too commonly seen in controlling and abusive men, like you, who end up killing their partner.”

Justice Kelly said Archer told a series of “extravagant” lies to police and the media to try to explain Ms Meyers’ disappearance.

After he killed her he buried her body under the floor of a toolshed in the backyard of his parents’ home.

He returned the next day and covered the grave with fresh concrete.

Justice Kelly said police investigating the disappearance of Ms Meyers were struck by Archer’s lack of concern and distress and described his conviction as “well nigh inevitable” based on the evidence.

He subsequently pleaded guilty to murder, with a member of Ms Meyers’ family telling him to “rot you piece of s***” as he was led away from the dock on Friday.

Outside the court, Ms Meyers’ brother-in-law Michael Bates said the family was basically happy with the outcome.

“It would be nice for him to be in there for life and never see the light of day again,” Mr Bates said.

“But with the way the system is, that’s a good outcome for us.”

National domestic violence helpline: 1800 737 732 or 1800RESPECT. In an emergency call triple-zero.